The three men injured while trying to repair an ammonia leak on the vessel Excellence Friday are doing well. The ship’s chief engineer was treated and released at the Iliuliuk Health Clinic in Unalaska on Friday. Two employees of Alfa Welding were air lifted to Anchorage Friday with more serious injuries. One was released Saturday and the other is in good condition but remains in the hospital under observation. Several first responders from the Unalaska Department of Public Safety were also treated at the clinic for ammonia exposure.
The Seattle-owned vessel developed a leak in the onboard refrigeration system while at sea, 18 hours out from Dutch Harbor. They made their way to port with the broken section isolated and tied up at Kloosterboer North Dock. They were able to unload a portion of their catch while a repair crew went to work on the problem. The more serious leak began Friday as welders were repairing the original leak. As ammonia began to escape from the ship the Kloosterboer plant was evacuated and the workers began walking down Ballyhoo Road toward city dock. They were joined by the vessel’s 130-plus crew members and crews from several fishing boats docked in the general area.
According to a Department of Environmental report between 3000 and 5000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia leaked. This is an estimate by the captain of the M/V Excellence. The total amount of anhydrous ammonia onboard was about 20,500 pounds.
The Unalaska fire department sprayed the vessel’s engine room with water to keep the ammonia from dissipating into the atmosphere.
The DEC report states that the leak is in the low pressure side of the system. It will not be possible to secure the leak until the atmosphere in the ship allows safe entry.
Around 7:00 pm Saturday a Magone Marine tug moved the M/V Excellence from the Kloosterboer dock to a Wide Bay mooring buoy. There it will continue to leak ammonia.